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The Last Samurai 1980
Description: Following the trail of a samurai ancestor, two Japanese businessmen on a quest for spiritual fulfillment arrive in Africa with a group of tourists, only to receive kidnapped by the local guerrilla leader. A tough mercenary gotta rescue them.
Released: 28 Feb 1997 Director: P. Manneberg, Paul Mayersberg Writers: Paul Mayersberg (screenplay), Paul Mayersberg Actors: John Fujioka, Lance Henriksen, Arabella Holzbog, James Ryan Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama
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The Last Samurai Reviews:

Large disappointment. Usually Lance Henriksen can offer some redeeming qualities to even the worst script as he did in Stone Cold. BUT, no one should save this movie. Continuity has been ignored with a passion. The storyline is WEAK and remains unjustified right through the final credits. This is not even a "rainy day watch." This is film for laying down and avoiding. AND; as far as the DVD being "digitally re-mastered;" I fear the master was beyond help, because even state of the art home theatre should not create the audio enjoyable. The next time you wish visitors to leave, fire this film up, and you'll have your policy in no time.


A group of tourists on safari in Africa are kidnapped by a self-styled guerrilla general (Henry Cele). Among the group are two Japanese businessmen on a quest for a lost Samurai ancestor and woman whose lover is a white hunter-cum-mercenary soldier. But the kidnap is a scam to enable an Arab in the group to meet with the general and arrange an arms deal. But lo! the lover is coming to save them all in real Crocodile Dundee-style! A strange mix of themes here - Japanese fighting, Stallone style ambushes in the forest, a compound full of prisoners with an elegant house nearby and John Saxon's weird shot at a middle Eastern accent. But strangest of all is Mr Cele's wardrobe - from Shaka style leopard skin outfits - one in a boudoir finished with beaded wig! - to dungarees and a straw hat as he tends his roses. But he looks greatest in his general's uniform and his striding walk should not be equalled for dignity and presence. Which is just as well as there's tiny else in this movie to spark one's interest and is desperately massive with 'meaningful' mood musac. Mr Cele alone tackles his role with a credible commitment, giving a saving grace to an otherwise classically B minus movie. It's only worth watching his performance so quick forward the rest!


Yasujiro Endo (Fujioka) is a Japanese businessman who decides to go to the African nation of Imtazi. He believes an ancestor of his was a samurai fighter who somehow got lost in Africa, and he is searching for answers. But for him it becomes a sort of spiritual quest to reconnect with his past. Meanwhile, he is surrounded by another colourful characters, such as Johnny Congo (Henriksen), a Vietnam vet, and Al-Hakim (Saxon), an Arab sheik. Caro and Susan (Holzbog and Eilbacher) have their own reasons for being there as well. Things really begin to heat up when, surprisingly enough, strife occurs in Africa. That seems to give everyone the excuse for violence they're looking for (or maybe that's just the audience). Will Endo truly be THE LAST SAMURAI? Not to be confused with the Tom Cruise film of the same name, here the Last Samurai in question seems to be John Fujioka. He was a prolific actor that appeared in American Ninja (1985), American Ninja 2 (1987), American Samurai (1992) and American Yakuza (1993). He was obviously as obsessed with "American"-based action films as we are here at Comeuppance Reviews, and for that we salute him. Clearly Tom Cruise is jealous of this guy. But here's the problem: The Last Samurai is a situation of the old "bait and switch". With a game like that, and with a picture of Fujioka on the front brandishing a giant sword, you think you know what you're in for. But you'd be wrong: this film is an Africa Slog. Much like a Zone Slog, a Submarine Slog, an Airplane Slog, or perhaps a Sci-Fi Slog, An Africa Slog might be fun for the cast and team of the movie, but it's not for the audience. After sitting there restlessly throughout most of the running time, you're GLAD he's the Last Samurai.Even the nice Lance Henriksen cannot save this. He does his absolute best, and his bolo tie is cute awesome, but he's struggling vs a wall of incoherent plotting and incompetent direction, which is surprising for the normally talented Paul Mayersberg. Knowing his history, he may have been going for the artier end of things, but it all seems to fall flat. It's difficult to say what's going on here and why. Simply putting a bunch of characters in Africa is not the same thing as a plot. But Henriksen - whose name is Johnny Congo, it feels necessary to reiterate - had faced very related challenges before, namely with Savage Dawn (1985). Interestingly enough, his co-star here, Arabella Holzbog, would appear with him again the same year in Stone Cold (1991), which was sort of like a biker do-over to correct the mistakes of Savage Dawn. It was also interesting to see fellow fanatic favourite John Saxon as some sort of Arab sheik. Saxon's accent, or Saxccent, set him apart and showed his acting range.Yes, the beginning of the movie has a classy black and white Kendo match, and the climax has some nice action, but it's too tiny too late, as there's not much of any in the middle of the movie. The Last Samurai is closer in spirit to Danger Territory (1996), Sweepers (1998), and even, heaven support us, High Explosive (2001), but it's not that bad. We don't wish to malign the film too much, but we felt it did not deliver on its promises. It lacks surprises or excitement. We really wanted to like the movie, but not much happens that makes it simple to like.We found the Front Row Entertainment VHS at the Salvation Army, and we were excited at first, but it may receive place back into circulation.



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